CHILLICOTHE, Ohio — During Halloween season, it’s not uncommon for listless dummies to be mistaken for distressed humans, prompting 911 calls. But, sadly, in Chillicothe, Ohio, the reverse was true; a murdered woman found hanging on a chain-link fence Tuesday morning was thought to be simply another Halloween prank.
Around 8:30 a.m., construction workers in Chillicothe called police when they realized the body was actually a real woman. One neighbor who saw the body thought it was a Halloween prank.
The woman’s body dangled, as her sleeve was caught high on the fence. Police said she had obvious injuries, but deny that the body was mutilated.
Investigators said she was beaten badly. Neighbors said her face was unrecognizable.
Tammy Dixon saw the body and said, “Just put my hands over my face and said, ‘This can’t be happening here, it’s not real, and I just didn’t see what I thought I saw.'”
The victim has been identified as 31-year-old Rebecca Cade, a life-long resident of the community.
Police made an arrest in the case on Tuesday evening, charging 27-year-old Donnie Cochenour Jr. with one count of murder. He is being held on a $2 million bond at the Ross County Jail. Investigators said he admitted to the killing. While the motive remains unclear, police said the two were involved in a fight Tuesday night.
Police say Cade tried running from Cochenour when she got caught up in the fence.
At a news briefing Wednesday afternoon, Police Chief Keith Washburn said Cade died of blunt-force trauma to the head and neck. Washburn said it appeared she fought her attacker. Investigators said they found what they believe is the murder weapon near the scene: a bloody rock, about the size of a grapefruit.
— Lu Ann Stoia (@stoiawsyx6) October 14, 2015
Washburn expressed sympathies to Cade’s family and said they want their privacy during this difficult time.
An autopsy is set for Thursday.
Diana Carter lives near the homicide scene and said they are haunted by the fact they never heard a fight between Cade and her attacker.
“We didn’t do enough, we should have done more. It is a young girl’s life that now is taken,” Carter said.
A friend who lived with Cade for a couple years said she is scared and saddened by the violence. Tabitha Long said Cade had learning disabilities and was an easy target: “She was very gullible, very easily misled, as long as she thought you were her friend she would do just about anything for you.”
Long said, “I was shocked, I mean, it is very heartbreaking because she was such a nice girl, I can’t fathom it, I don’t think it’s set in yet.”
Washburn said officials are actively trying to put an end to violent crime in the area: “This person is behind bars, locked up where he needs to be. Hopefully taking him off the street will make this community a little bit safer. We need the public’s help, they need to be vigilant and watchful.”
Police said Cade was not one of the six women who have vanished or died in the area since summer 2014 and they don’t think the incident is linked to those cases either.
— Mike McCarthy (@mikewsyx6) October 14, 2015
According to The Columbus Dispatch, Cade had a 15-month-old son, Bryan, who was born with fetal alcohol syndrome and now lives with his aunt, Denise Hughes, after Cade “lost interest” in him.
Hughes told the Dispatch, “Rebecca didn’t deserve that, what happened to her. She was always running the streets and always doing the drugs, but she had people who loved her. I hope she knew that.”